The Punk Art of Failure: The Mekons and Ideology

Trainspotting: The Movie

The trailer for the film version of Trainspotting, directed by Danny Boyle, anticipates what I’ll be thinking about in this project. On the one hand, for Welch’s novel to have become such a huge commercial success on film can be seen as a victory for the novelist, the kind of person (punks) his book represents, and the resistant ideology the “choose life” speech advocates. On the other, by becoming such a slick commodity, Trainspotting can be seen as selling out, ironically betraying the ideals of the source material by playing into very the hands of global commercialism being satirized by Renton’s speech. My examination of punk rock and The Mekons here will investigate this paradoxical tightrope walk between commercial failure on one hand (e.g. this book never being read, this film never being made), and punk failure (e.g. selling out to the film industry) on the other.


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